OPSEU Local 241 - Mohawk College Support Staff

Home2020-11-20T12:28:11-05:00

Statement re: Social Media and CAAT-S Division

Update: See May 14 Response Letter from CAAT-S Divisional Executives and Employee/Employer Relations Committee (PDF)

We are aware that information is being shared on social media regarding our division, CAAT Support Staff.

We want to acknowledge how stressful this time is for all of our members. As your Local Executive Committee, we understand the seriousness of the current situation across the college system. We do not take any of the decisions before us lightly.

Please be assured that we continue to work for you, and will share concrete information as we receive it. The situation continues to change rapidly.

In solidarity,
OPSEU Local 241 Officers

2020 May 14|Full-Time Members, Part-Time Members|

Local Town Hall – Wednesday May 20, 5:00 pm

Local 241 is hosting an informational Town Hall for members on Wednesday May 20 at 5:00 pm. All support staff, including members who have been laid off, are encouraged to attend.

The link to join the meeting will be sent by email. Click here to RSVP.

We want to share with everyone what is going on with the LEC and our communications with the DivEX and OPSEU. We will also do our best to answer any questions you may have.

Edit: The format of the meeting was changed from GMM to Town Hall. This is an informational session and no votes will be conducted.

2020 May 11|General Membership Meetings|

May 5 Vote Results

Question presented on May 5: Should a delegation from our Bargaining Team / EERC accept the invitation from Council to discuss a short-term, temporary layoff process in return for enhanced entitlements for the laid off employees?

Local 241 results: 88% Yes (270 votes), 12% No (36 votes)
All colleges: 47% Yes (2585 votes), 53% No (2928 votes)

2020 May 7|General Membership Meetings|

Emergency Online Meeting – Tuesday May 5 @ 5:00pm

Thank you to all of our members for the amazing turnout on incredibly short notice. Vote results will be posted when we receive them, by Friday May 8.


If you have RSVP’d and haven’t received your meeting invitation by 3:00 pm, please check your spam e-mail folders.

Local 241 is convening an Online Emergency General Membership Meeting. All support staff, including members who have been laid off, Appendix D, I/O positions, part-time or full-time should attend. Please pass this information to fellow support staff in your area.

Tuesday May 5 @ 5:00 pm
RSVP below to receive the online meeting link.

Motion to be voted on

Whether or not to send a delegation of 3 Full-Time and 3 Part-time representatives with our negotiator to hear what College Council has to discuss regarding layoffs due to COVID-19.

  • The Full-Time representatives shall come from the Bargaining Team, with at least one rep from a large college and one rep from a small college.
  • The Part-Time reps shall come from the Divisional Executive group.
  • Votes must be counted and returned to the Negotiator by Wednesday May 6 @ 3:00 pm.

See letter from CAAT-S Divisional Chair (PDF)

RSVP to receive meeting link

You must RSVP to receive the meeting link: https://bit.ly/241GMM-May2020

Alternate date if quorum is not met

If we do not have enough members to pass the vote on Tuesday May 5, a second meeting will be held Wednesday May 6 at noon.

Membership Forms – Important

It is vitally important for all Support Staff complete their membership forms. If you’ve never completed the form, can’t remember if you did, or you have changes names/addresses, please submit a form today.

How does being a signed member benefit me?

  • You confirm your OPSEU membership and will get an OPSEU member card. Membership is not automatic!
  • You become eligible for strike pay in the event of a labour interruption.
  • You become eligible for member discount programs.
  • You become eligible to vote at Membership Meetings or run as a candidate for an elected Local position.

How does being a signed member help our local?

  • Each signed member increases the per-member funding our local receives from OPSEU central.
  • When we reach a certain percentage of signed members, the Local President or Vice-President will be allowed to use “Release Time” and do work for our Local on a full-time basis. All Local officers and stewards are volunteers, but release time wages are reimbursed with no loss of income.

How do I complete my membership form?

  1. Download the membership form (PDF)
  2. Fill in highlighted fields.
  3. In lieu of a written signature, you must send your completed form to us from your personal, non-work e-mail address to info@opseu241.ca.

We are immensely grateful to all of our members, who have lent us their time, efforts, and voices during an unreal time. You are the source of our Local’s strength and determination.

Forced Vacation Questions & Answers (4-27)

Updates as of Monday April 27 2020 5:30pm

  • 5 vacation days can be saved for use after August 31 and before June 30 2021.
  • Lieu time can be used and scheduled without being restricted by the August 31 deadline. Use must be agreed between the employee and their manager.

This post is being updated as we receive information. Please check this page daily and send questions to ftunitsteward@opseu241.ca.
Members are encouraged to continue to ask questions to their managers and make their opinions on the forced use of vacation known.

Answers to questions we collected as of Friday April 24 are below.

Please see statement from Local 241 regarding forced use of vacation posted on Friday April 24.

Current Known Answers

1. Is this province-wide or solely a Mohawk decision?
Many colleges in the sector have begun to use planned vacation use for support and admin staff as an employment stability option; as a way to ensure all employees are available to return to the college when we are safely able to do so; and also to reduce the vacation accrual amounts. Vacation accruals account for a significant amount of money within the college’s budget.

2. Why are they forcing July 1 allotment now? Why can’t there be blackout times based on department needs and scheduling throughout the year?
That would not assist in the factors identified in question 1 above.

3. What happens if the College is up and running in January 2021, does this mean I cannot go on vacation until my July 1, 2021 allotment becomes available?
As of April 27 2020, Support Staff can carry five (5) vacation days past August 31 that can be used until June 30 2021. They may potentially use some days in advance of the July 1 2021 entitlement.

4. I want to reserve vacation days due to mental health concerns in the future. If I have zero vacation days and need a personal day to attend to a family/health/religious/personal matter, how will that be handled? Will it be unpaid?
There are multiple options for days off based on mental health concerns and the college would support the employees who require time off for this purpose.
5 carryover vacation days, family care days, sick days, unpaid leave days, and the ability to request use of some days in advance of July 1st as noted above in question 3.

5. I am worried about my health and well-being for the year, particularly burnout. What strategies does the employer have in place to support employees?
The college will be continuing to provide wellness sessions, webinars, supports and training to employees during the closure and when work resumes on campus.  There are resources available continually through the Employee Family Assistance Program, and managers will continue to encourage and support employees to utilize these services.

6. Have admin and faculty also been forced to take all vacation? Will admin also be complying with this directive?
The memo from the COO confirmed that “Support Staff and Administrative employees will be expected to use all banked lieu time and vacation days by August 31, 2020. This includes any current banked vacation as well as the July 1st vacation allotment.”  This has now been amended to allow for 5 vacation days to be carried past August 31, and for lieu days to continue to be booked at a time satisfactory to all parties.
Admin staff will be scheduled for their vacation in the same way as support staff for this period with no availability for carryover past August 31 unless an exception is requested/approved. 
Faculty vacation is assigned in a 2-month block, based on their deferred salary and is therefore used in full every spring/summer term.

7. Do Admin staff receive their vacation allotment on September 1 and wouldn’t be affected by an 11-month vacation blackout period? Were admin staff also told to use their next vacation allotments?
Unlike Support Staff, Admin staff do not earn their vacation in advance of receiving their entitlement each year. Support staff work from July 1 until June 30th to accrue vacation, which is then given to them on July 1st of the following year
Example: The vacation days received on July 1 2019 were accrued by working from July 1 2018 to June 30 2019.

Admin staff receive their allotment of days on September 1st of each year, but the days are earned after, from September 1 through to August 31 of the following year. Support staff earn vacation days to receive later, Admin staff earn days as they go.
Example: If an Admin employee resigns/retires and they have used their full entitlement of their vacation days before August 31, they would owe the college the cost for the days they had taken in advance.
If a member of Support Staff resigns/retires and used their full entitlement before June 30, they would not owe the college anything. They would also be paid out for days they had accrued up to the day of resignation/retirement.

This is why the assignment of vacation for this spring-summer has a different impact for Support vs. Admin staff.

8. If we do not want to take our vacation, can you opt for payout?
There is no provision within the FT Support Staff collective agreement to request payment for vacation time instead of using the earned vacation time.

19. What about people who will be on parental leave before August 31? Will they have to use vacation? 
They would be included in the directive that vacation is to be used by August 31st.

10. What about employees who are in I/O positions?
The same expectations apply to employees in I/O positions.

11. What about staff who are currently on leave (educational)? They have accumulated vacation days from 2019 and 2020 that will not be used by the deadline.
PD Leave agreements contain language in them to address the use of vacation time and expectations regarding that use during the leave period. 

12. In our current collective agreement, seniority plays a role in approving vacations. Due to the many days staff will now need to take, does this still stand or does the fact that services must be maintained and we need to distribute vacation requests more evenly based on how to best continue our services factor in?
Where conflicts arise among employees in the scheduling of vacation times, length of service will be considered, as well as staffing and operational requirements in the final determination of vacation schedules. 

13. Some of us have large balances of vacation. What if the college re-opens before we use all our vacation days, and operational needs require us to return to work? Would we then be permitted to carry the remainder of our days past August 31, or would we be forced to take payout? Would this be at the discretion of our direct manager?
There will need to be a staged return to the workplace to ensure the health and safety of all employees and students. There is a Business Restoration Team focusing on the planning for this and will guide the reintegration process once it is determined that we can begin to consider a return to campus. 
It is unlikely that all employees will be back on campus during the summer period, therefore vacation can proceed as planned.
If there is a requirement for certain staff to return to work before August 31, those vacation balances will be carried forward.

14. Are contract positions being kept or extended to cover Full-time scheduled vacations?
The expectation is that employees will be assigned to perform a restricted amount of “required functions” as per the Business Continuity directives.  Therefore, that lessened workload should allow for vacation and appropriate coverage to be scheduled.

15. Can banked lieu time be paid out since it is not a mutual agreement on when to take it? Article 6.6.4 states “time must be taken off within 60 days of the occurrence of the overtime … at a time determined by the college AND satisfactory with the employee” which this demand is not.
The college and managers have historically been very flexible about the use of lieu time and extension beyond the 60 days outlined in the Collective Agreement.  The college has agreed that banked lieu time can be discussed and scheduled at a time that is satisfactory to all parties and does not need to entirely be taken or used by August 31st.

16. Conestoga College has announced that its admin salaries have been frozen. Is Mohawk considering a similar strategy?
There is no plan for an Administrative increase at this time.

17. I’m concerned about who management can designate to do our jobs while we are off. If the staff do not know how to do our job, are we required to train them? If an employee has some work but isn’t busy at all times, and they’re laid-off, can management assign their work to someone else or can management complete their work?
The expectation is that not all duties will continue and that employees will be assigned to perform a restricted amount of “required functions” as per the Business Continuity directives.  The lessened workload should allow for vacation and appropriate coverage to be scheduled. 
Some duties will not be assigned to others and will have to stop based on the changes related to working remotely.  There may be some need to share information and provide knowledge transfer to familiarize others to complete some of the required tasks.

18. Will taking unpaid time off be allowed between September 2020 – July 1, 2021, without any additional approvals if we are forced to use up all our vacation this summer?
There will be an opportunity to request unpaid time off during the period from September 1 to July 1, 2021. Managers will review requests for time and will be reasonable in allowing time off for staff.

19. Why wasn’t the same rule made for all Mohawk College employees – regardless of which positions they hold?
The memo did reference the fact that the scheduling of vacation applies to all support and admin employees.  It confirmed that exceptions will be considered and those will need to be raised with the manager and then brought forward for consideration for approval. 
The process is that any exceptions will come through the Manager to their MEG member and then the COO will make the final determination.  This applies to all employees up to and including the Vice Presidents. 
This does not apply to Faculty as their vacation period is prescribed in the Academic Employees Collective agreement, and must align to the semester dates in Spring/Summer. 

20. People are worried about a layoff. How soon would we know that this would be coming?
Business continuity planning is underway to inform decisions about the next steps in resourcing and staffing.  Information will be shared with the union as soon as there is a confirmation of any projected impacts on staff.

21. If you are laid off and the college does not reopen during the academic year, are you no longer on the layoff list as it goes for more than 9 months?
For RPT staff on layoff, if there is no work to return to within the 9 month period, they will be provided with severance. 

22. Won’t this scheduling of vacation cost the College more money in the long run?
No, the vacation liability accounts for a significant amount of money within the college’s budget.

23. Will HR post an FAQ or any information to provide first-hand answers to these questions?
An FAQ document is being finalized and will be shared.


Previous Questions & Answers

Questions below were posted before April 24 2020 and may not be relevant. Please send any new questions to ftunitsteward@opseu241.ca.

Q: “Is it a fair statement to say based on operational needs, your manager will decide if the July allotment will be used before August 31?
A: “Yes, managers will be working with the staff in order to schedule vacation and lieu time, with a plan to have the balances used by August 31st.”

Q: “What happens if I have no vacation days yet until July 1st?
A: “There would be opportunity to utilize vacation that will be allocated on July 1st prior to that date [August 31 2020].”

Q: I have a vacation booked and approved in the future after August 31 2020. Can I hold back days for this?
A: “The memo confirmed that exceptions can be considered and will need to be approved by Paul Armstrong.”

“Some people have to plan out childcare accommodations for school PA days, Christmas break and March break. Special family plans, or even elective surgeries.
A: “The memo did reference the fact that exceptions will be considered. Those will need to be raised with the manager and then brought forward for consideration for approval. The process is that any exceptions will come through the Manager to their MEG member and then [Chief Operating Officer] will make the final determination. This applies to all employees up to and including the Vice Presidents.”

Q: If we are forced to use our July 1 vacation allotment and remote work continues, what will be done about time off until the next allotment on July 1 2021?
A: “There will be days accrued during the fall period, and requests for use of days around the holiday period or into the new year will be reviewed and considered.”

Q: “How come the Faculty local was in discussion about their vacations but we weren’t?
A: “The discussion with the faculty union centred around the spring semester timing start and end dates and faculty contiguous vacation planning around those dates. It was also similar to the Support and Admin requirements that their vacation is to be planned and used.”

2020 April 27|Full-Time Members|

Message from Local 241 Regarding Forced Vacation

We hope this message finds you and your families well during these unprecedented times. We would like to share what we’re working on for our members as we navigate recent events impacting our local, and locals of 23 colleges in Ontario.

On Monday April 20 the College released a memo on forced vacation use. This has lead to confusion on both Admin and Support sides. We’ve had hundreds of questions from a large number of members and are doing our best to reply to all of them.

Forced Vacation Usage

We are being forced to use

  • The remaining days we earned from 2018-2019 (given July 1st, 2019) and
  • The days we earned from 2019-2020 (given July 1st, 2020)

Vacation days for the next year are accrued starting on July 1st, 2020. We are not given those days until July 1st, 2021.
This means we will go without vacation days until July 1st, 2021. To tell us that we will have no vacation time for an entire year is a tough pill to swallow.

The very first sentence of article 11.5 says “Vacation shall be as scheduled by the College.” It is clear that, although employees can state their preferences and shall not be unreasonably denied, the scheduling of vacation is predominantly a management right. Management has the discretion to approve/deny (in this case) based on two conditions:

  1. Any vacation carry-over must be “consistent with efficient staffing requirements”. Overall, there is less work now in some areas than there will be when we eventually return. The College has set out an Overall Policy.
  2. There must be an “agreement on scheduling” those days next year with your supervisor. There is likely to be no such agreement. The exception will be employees who are doing critical work right now and cannot be replaced while they use vacation days.

Yes, they can ask you to take your 2019-2020 vacation before June 30th. Being forced to use your vacation for 2020-2021 before it is given would be a violation of the Collective Agreement.

There are always special circumstances. If you need to carry-over vacation, request it in writing and state which dates you would like to take. Provide specific reasons for why you need to carry-over these days.

Vacation Carry-Over

Yes, the College has the right to deny vacation carry-over for most employees in the current circumstances. We do not have an absolute right to carry-over vacation days to next year.

In Article 11.6:

Recognizing the needs of the College and the desires of employees, an employee may carry over up to three (3) weeks of vacation to the immediately subsequent vacation year, consistent with efficient staffing requirements and subject to agreement on the scheduling of the carry-over week(s) in the following vacation year at a time satisfactory to the College.

Occasionally, you may want to carry up to three weeks vacation to the next year so you can take a longer vacation. E.g. six weeks all at once for a special trip or project.

In contract language, the words that come first in an article are weighted heavier than the words that follow when balancing competing interests. “Recognizing the needs of the College” comes before “the desires of employees”. In these terms, the College’s needs generally outweigh employee desires.

Forced Lieu Time Usage

Per the Collective Agreement:

  • No – The College cannot force you to take lieu time instead of pay for accrued overtime.
  • Yes – If you choose lieu time, you can be required to take that time within 60 days (in this case before June 30th)

Under the Collective Agreement, you must be allowed to choose lieu time OR pay for overtime worked. The College cannot force you to accept lieu time instead of pay.

Article 6.6.4 of the Collective Agreement states

Where an employee has worked and accumulated authorized overtime … such employee shall have the option of
– electing payment at the applicable overtime rate or
– time off equivalent to the applicable overtime rate.

It is a violation of our collective agreement for the College to tell you

  • overtime must be taken as time off, or
  • to intimidate you into accepting lieu time.

Article 6.6.4 also states that lieu time not taken within 60 days must be paid, unless usage at a later time is agreed upon with management:

Where the employee elects time off at the applicable overtime rate, such time off
– must be taken within sixty (60) calendar days of the occurrence of the overtime (unless extended by agreement of the College and the employee)
– [taken] at a time determined by the College and satisfactory to the employee.
Where time off in lieu is not taken on the foregoing basis, payment shall be made in accordance with the applicable overtime rate.

If you chose lieu time: The College can force lieu time to be taken before June 30th.
If you chose to be paid: They cannot force you to take your authorized overtime as lieu.

Note that overtime worked on a stat holiday cannot be taken as time in lieu (article 10.5).

If your family members have lost their jobs, or you have other pressing financial needs, ask for payment. If you cannot be spared right now due to the nature of your job, ask for payment or ask to schedule your lieu time after June 30th.

You cannot be denied pay based on Article 6.6.4. If you are denied, we will follow the process in the Collective Agreement.

Information to follow

In our meeting with HR on April 24, they advised us that Paul Armstrong, Kim Watkins, and Megan Mascarin would like to meet with us on April 27 to discuss the memo and a new communication that will be sent following the meeting.

We do not know what will come next. We are planning for the worst and hoping for the best. We want to make sure our members’ rights are being protected. You’ve worked hard for those rights, and the college is not respecting them. While we may not be able to stop this from happening, we can make sure we follow the processes given to us in our Collective Agreement.

Please remember that if you have any questions, contact us and we will do our best to make sure we get the answers your need.

Take care and stay safe,
Officers of Local 241

2020 April 24|Full-Time Members|

Information for Layoffs or Loss of Employment

If you have been laid off from the college by any means, at any time during the COVID-19 crisis

  1. Contact your Unit Steward from your personal/home email. We are building a record of laid-off employees to monitor recalls and encouraging members to file grievances.
  2. Ensure that you have received a Record of Employment
    • If you received a layoff letter that specifies a Record of Employment was processed for you, apply for government benefits immediately.
    • If you DID NOT receive a layoff letter or any notification that a Record of Employment was processed on your behalf, complete a Record of Employment request form (word doc) and return it to Payroll ASAP.
  3. See our directory of support organizations for assistance with mental health, wellness, food, and financial assistance.

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About Local 241

OPSEU Local 241 proudly represents all Support Staff at Mohawk College, including part-time and student employees.

Local Stewards offer confidential, one-on-one support to our members to help navigate life in the workplace and exercise our rights as workers. Need assistance? Contact us.